The internet is an indispensable resource in our lives. By law, websites and mobile applications need to be accessible in order to provide tantamount access and opportunity to the visually impaired. However, the percentage of accessible websites are still low. In our research, we studied the application development process of professional web developers to understand their view on accessibility. Based on our findings, we built a tool called - Vibl, which provides feedback to web developers on the accessibility of their application as they build it. We demonstrate the gamification component of Vibl as well, which has been designed to inculcate a sense of competition among developers and motivate them to create accessible websites. We propose a within-participant design to evaluate Vibl’s effect on web accessibility. Our results show that Vibl has significant effect on learning web accessibility guidelines (t = −7.9148, p < 10−4 ) and on easiness of adding accessibility (t = −5.7664, p < 10−3 ).
- What are the current challenges faced by developers in making accessible applications?
- How can we design a tool to help developers make websites accessible?
- How does the tool fit in the web developer’s design process?
Breakdowns found during initial UX studies
- Bias blind spot. Blind people are not website users.
- Lack of awareness about Legal obligations.
- Lack of tools to check for accessibility issues. Most tools do not fit into the web development ecosystem.
- TL:DR - W3C guidelines.
- Lack of motivation to add extra effort in making the application accessible.
- Hard deadlines and lack of time in an industry setup.
In our interviews we found that professional developers extensively use browser extensions throughout their development process. Chrome developer tools is a critical component of a web developers arsenal, so it made a lot of sense to augment the Chrome developer panel with Vibl. Following image shows results from Vibl for a local grocery website.
Easy Access to guidelines
Supporting the Vibl tool is a website, which shows accessibility guidelines along with examples.
Most of the participant interviews reflected lack of motivation in the web development community towards improving accessibility of the applications they were building. Vibl’s gamification component compares the score of the application under test with other developers using Vibl around the world.
Guideline for the day
A new accessibility guideline is shown in Vibl daily to support learning.